“Truly exciting”: Probiotic may increase muscle mass, energy & performance

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Muscle

Supplements of Lactobacillus plantarum TWK10 may increase muscle mass, boost energy, counter fatigue, and improve physical performance, says a new study with lab mice.

Scientists from the National Taiwan Sport University report that six weeks of supplementation with L. plantarum​ TWK10 (LP10) were associated with significant decreases in body weight and increases in muscle weight.

Data published in Nutrients​ also indicated that the lab animals receiving the probiotic had increased grip strength and greater endurance during a swim test.

“The results are truly exciting, but…”

Commenting independently on the study’s findings, Dr Ralf Jaeger, co-founding partner of Increnovo LLC, a global independent consulting firm, told us: “While the study results of Chi-Chang Huang and fellow authors are truly exciting, humans are different from animals and the study needs to be repeated in humans before being able to judge the true potential of this strain for muscle health and athletic performance. 

“Different factors make the transition into humans questionable: Human athletes have a different microbiota than sedentary people, and the differences are linked to protein consumption and exercise. Mice eat each other’s poop and when looking at microbiota studies, the true n-size in animals is often lower than reported since "microbiota exchange” cannot be prevented if the animals are not housed individually,”​ said Dr Jaeger.

“The gut-muscle-axis is a growing field of interest and recent studies in humans have shown their potential to increase endurance performance (in the heat), prevent exercise-induced inflammation and subsequent drops in performance, or increase protein utilization and thereby indirectly increase recovery and reduce exercise-induced muscle damage. Direct effects of probiotics on muscle mass and strength are yet unknown in humans. If the results can indeed be repeated in humans, probiotic supplementation could not only benefit athletes, it could also potentially aid healthy aging (sarcopenia) and prevent muscle wasting.”

Study details

Probiotics ©  Jezperklauzen
"If the results can indeed be repeated in humans, probiotic supplementation could not only benefit athletes, it could also potentially aid healthy aging (sarcopenia) and prevent muscle wasting," said Dr Ralf Jaeger,Increnovo LLC.Image © iStockPhoto / Jezperklauzen

The researchers divided 24 male mice into three equal groups and supplemented their diets with no probiotics (control group) or LP10 doses of 205 million or 1.03 billion colony-forming units per kg per day for six weeks. The lower dose is the murine equivalent of a human dose of 10 billion CFUs, explained the researchers.

Results showed that forelimb grip strengths were 1.31 and 1.40 times higher in the lower and higher LP10 dose groups, respectively, compared with the control group.

Significant increases in swimming endurance were also recorded, with the time to exhaustion increased 1.85 and 4.81 fold in the lower and higher LP10 dose groups, respectively, compared with the control group.

The probiotic was also found to significantly decrease measures of fatigue, such as serum lactate, ammonia, and creatine kinase after acute exercise challenge (levels were much higher in the control group).

“Serum creatine kinase (CK) level is an important clinical biomarker of muscle damage, muscular dystrophy, severe muscle breakdown, myocardial infarction, autoimmune myositides, and acute renal failure,” ​explained the researchers. “Therefore, LP10 supplementation could ameliorate skeletal muscle injury induced by acute exercise challenge. Trend analysis revealed that LP10 treatment had a significant dose-dependent effect on CK level.”

The probiotic groups also displayed lower fat pad mass in the animals, compared to the control group (34.6% and 50.3% lower in the low and high dose groups). Muscle mass increased, however, and was 1.1-fold greater in the probiotic groups, compared with control.

“Thus, supplementation of LP10 for six weeks could change body composition to more fit and stronger,” ​wrote the researchers.

“In this study, we found that LP10 supplementation increased exercise performance, decreased white adipose tissue, increased muscle mass, and enhanced gastrocnemius muscle type I fiber numbers without [body weight] gain. These results suggest that gut microbiota contribute to the host metabolic phenotype to affect physical activity in terms of energy balance and body composition.”

“For future investigations, LP10 could be used in humans who focus on aerobic endurance training for protective and health purposes,” ​wrote the researchers. “In addition, data in humans supporting the existence of such interplay are lacking. Because humans have different lifestyles, behaviors, diets, and many environmental factors that influence their microbiomes, future studies should be performed in humans to validate the concepts based on animal models.”

Source: Nutrients
2016, 8​(4), 205; doi:10.3390/nu8040205 (registering DOI)
​Lactobacillus plantarum TWK10 Supplementation Improves Exercise Performance and Increases Muscle Mass in Mice”
Authors: Y-M. Chen et al. 

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